New Hampshire’s status as a swing state has had several negative consequences for its residents:
- Its politics have been nationalized, and so the national political mood determines the partisan composition of the winning state legislative candidates.
- Its residents have to put up with avalanches of political advertising and campaigning by national candidates.
- There are controversies over voter eligibility. Some Republicans like to tell dark tales of voters being “bussed in” from Massachusetts to cast presidential votes, taking advantage of same-day registration. I don’t buy these claims — extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence — but there has indeed been a serious controversy over whether college students from other states ought to be able to vote in N.H. The only serious argument I can see against their being allowed to vote in N.H. is that they are unfamiliar with the needs and problems of the state and their town and tend therefore to cast less informed votes in N.H. than they could in their home state (absentee). That makes sense to me. When I was a college student, I voted absentee in Houston because I knew the issues, not Virginia where I was going to school. But the courts have said that college students must be allowed to vote in N.H. if they want to. Most of them do want to, because New Hampshire is a swing state.
- The third-party vote always gets squeezed because of tactical voting.
These problems go away if New Hampshire passes a law requiring New Hampshire’s electoral votes to go to the national popular vote winner. “But New Hampshire would be ignored by the presidential candidates!” Yes — good. I can’t imagine that New Hampshire has meaningfully benefited from presidential candidates’ attention. There’s not a single program or project that I can think of that New Hampshire benefits from because of a presidential promise made to the state’s voters during a general election. New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary already gives it plenty of influence in the presidential selection process, and I don’t suggest giving that up.
The college-student problem, if it is one, goes away if New Hampshire is not a swing state. College students will vote wherever they feel they have a greater stake and better information, which is exactly as it should be. The avalanche of advertising stops, allowing voters to think harder about state and local issues and candidates. People will be more willing to vote sincerely in the presidential election, rather than for the lesser of two evils.
So why not, New Hampshire? You can take yourself off the table as an electoral college prize and regain some sanity and democratic autonomy for your state.
9 thoughts on “Why New Hampshire Should Give Its Electors to the National Popular Vote Winner”
Did you grow up in Houston? I live in Seabrook.
I did indeed – but on the southwest side of the city proper.
Do you ever come back?
As a matter of fact, I should be there for Christmas this year. We should get together for a beer or something. E-mail me!
I love it. Very solid reasoning.
A survey of New Hampshire voters showed 69% overall support for a national popular vote for President.
Support was 80% among Democrats, 57% among Republicans, and 69% among independents.
By age, support was 65% among 18-29 year olds, 66% among 30-45 year olds, 69% among 46-65 year olds, and 72% for those older than 65.
By gender, support was 76% among women and 57% among men.
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).
Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps.
When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.
The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.
The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.
In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.
The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.
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I’d personally rather see states to go a district system for the electoral college. I think it actually does a better job of doing what the electoral college was designed to do.
Maine and Nebraska voters, who use the district system, want a national popular vote.
A survey of Maine voters showed 77% overall support for a national popular vote for President.
In a follow-up question presenting a three-way choice among various methods of awarding Maine’s electoral votes,
* 71% favored a national popular vote;
* 21% favored Maine’s current system of awarding its electoral votes by congressional district; and
* 8% favored the statewide winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of Maine’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes statewide).
A survey of Nebraska voters showed 74% overall support for a national popular vote for President.
In a follow-up question presenting a three-way choice among various methods of awarding Nebraska’s electoral votes,
* 60% favored a national popular vote;
* 28% favored Nebraska’s current system of awarding its electoral votes by congressional district; and
* 13% favored the statewide winner-take-all system (i.e., awarding all of Nebraska’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes statewide).
Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system.
If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country’s congressional districts.
The district approach would not provide incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in a particular state or focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the state. With the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all laws (whether applied to either districts or states), candidates have no reason to campaign in districts or states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. In North Carolina, for example, there are only 2 districts (the 13th with a 5% spread and the 2nd with an 8% spread) where the presidential race is competitive. Nationwide, there have been only 55 “battleground” districts that were competitive in presidential elections. With the present deplorable 48 state-level winner-take-all system, 80% of the states (including California and Texas) are ignored in presidential elections; however, 88% of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.
Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.
Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.
Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.
A national popular vote is the way to make every person’s vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.